Radiation damage in charge-coupled devices

Radiat Environ Biophys. 2010 Aug;49(3):373-8. doi: 10.1007/s00411-010-0275-3. Epub 2010 Mar 18.


Due to their high sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio, charge-coupled devices (CCDs) have been the preferred optical photon detectors of astronomers for several decades. CCDs are flown in space as the main detection instrument on several well-known missions, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, XMM-Newton or the Cassini Probe. Also, CCDs are frequently used in satellite star trackers which provide attitude information to the satellite orientation system. However, one major drawback is their extreme vulnerability to radiation, which is readily abundant in space. Here, we shall give a brief overview of the radiation effects on CCDs, and mention ways how to mitigate the effects in other ways than merely increase shielding, such as cooling and annealing. As an example, we have investigated the radiation hardness of a particular CCD, the so-called CCD47-20 from Marconi Applied Technologies (now E2V), by exposing it to radiation fields representing the radiation environment found in a highly elliptic orbit crossing the Van-Allen radiation belts. Two engineering-grade CCDs were irradiated with proton beams and photons, and effects of increased bulk dark current, surface dark current and inversion threshold voltage shifts were observed and are quantified.

MeSH terms

  • Electricity*
  • Photons
  • Protons
  • Radiation*
  • Radiation, Ionizing


  • Protons